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(506) 2223-1327                                   Published Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 227                      Email us
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Despite holidays, joblessness remains a challenge
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The holiday season will bring a bump in employment as retailers put on extra salespeople.

There are some estimates of an increase of 10 percent in the workforce, but they may be over optimistic. Manpower Group, the employment agency, predicts a 4 percent increase in fourth quarter jobs and calls this the weakest increase since 2009.

Manpower surveyed 623 firms to obtain the employment expectations.  Just 10 percent said they would hire more individuals, and 5 percent said they would cut their workforces.

The unemployment rate is reported to be about 10 percent, but the Estado de Nación report put unemployment at 8.5 percent as a 2013 average.

The report that was just released also cited a progressive loss of dynamism of the so-called new economy that suggests an erosion of competitivity in certain sectors. The state of the nation report is the year-long work of four universities to help form public opinion and political policies.

The new economy is Costa Rica's effort to move away from manufacturing. It includes free zones and the work for export there, service industries and non-traditional agricultural exports. The emphasis is on sustainability.

The Estado de Nación outlined profound changes in the country since the first report came out 20 years ago:

• Today the country has 44 persons, 34 minors and 10 seniors depending on the work of each 100 workers.

• About 14.5 percent of the workforce is not enrolled in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social or pension programs even though affiliation with the Caja is at a record high.

• The number of homes with a female head of household has doubled from 17 percent in 1987 to an estimated 36 percent in 2013.

The central government has made two efforts to improve employment. As part of his rescue plan for the national economy, President Luis Guillermo Solís came forth with his national strategy for employment and production to increase the opportunities for women and men to obtain a decent job. The goal also is to reduce poverty and what is called inequality.

The decree said that some 200,000 Costa Ricans cannot find jobs and that 1 million more working substandard conditions, including illegally low wages and without Caja affiliation. The plan is to reduce unemployment to 7 percent by 2018.

In October Solís created the Consejo Presidencial de Competitividad, Innovación y Talento Humano.

Of the former, a leading business chamber said that employment is not generated by decrees but by policies that improve the business climate.

That was the opinion of the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, which was more optimistic about the Consejo.  The union of chambers presented Solís with 10 proposals to improve the business climate, including strengthening education.

Among other problems, the business sector is now struggling with the uncertainty of more taxes, something the Solís administration is expected to seek from lawmakers in the new year.

The president appears to have little choice because the nation has run up debts equal to more than 30 percent of the gross national product.

The business community would like to see less taxes, a reduction of paperwork, cheaper energy, a stable economy and better infrastructure, including roads.

The country has ruled out mining except for small-scale hard rock production and panning.

Lumbering requires a lot of paperwork, and much of the country is off limits to that industry. Petroleum drilling brings major protests from environmentalists.

Even major hydro projects and the proposed $1 billion container port at Moín draw protests and legal action, as does a proposal to generate electricity from underground heat in national parks. 

The Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social has several programs for labor markets, including Empleate that tries to find spots for those 17 to 24 who are not in school and unemployed.

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José‚ offices
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Tel: (323) 255-6116


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Phone number: (506) 8853-0000


Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Dr. Marco A. Mu¤oz Cavallini has placed and restored
DR. Cavallini
Dr. Marco A. Mu¤oz Cavallini
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Real estate agents and services

CR Beach
Jaco Beach Central Pacific Real Estate
CR Beach Investment Real Estate Broker & INT’L
NAR certified Realtor Jeff Fisher is famous for being “Brutally Honest.”
See why he still believes only the 100% titled land of the Jaco beach & Central Pacific areas of Playa Hermosa/ Jaco-Los Suenos Marina & Golf and the Esterillos-Bejuco beaches are the best places to live, invest and enjoy. 
Reason #1:  SJO Int’l Airport and S.J. suburbs are little more than one hour away.
#2: The Jaco area has everything you need, from KFC to Gourmet Organic;  from zip lines to bank lines, from a movie house to a fire sale house…. 
#3: BUYERS’ MARKET: Many properties are at their lowest price ever
           *$179,900 Hermosa Beachfront Community with Ocean Views !
Yes we know Costa Rica: Jeff (21 years here), Frances Winborne (23 years), and Junior Diaz (Jac¢ born & bred),  and we chose the Central Pacific!

Member of the N.A.R., the Costa Rican Real Estate Board CRGAR and the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 or  2643-4334, 2643-3672
JACO Office: IL Galeone Center by BAC, #14, Costa Rica

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   • Specialized in the Central and South Pacific.
   • Great network of realtors, to find your dream
   • Homes, condominium & luxury homes
   • Eco lodges and Hotels
   • Green properties and waterfalls
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   • Sustainable and green living communities.
   • Property management in the Jacó area
Telephone: +506 2643-4065   
cell: +506 8825-6556   US:  626 548-3909
skype: ecorealtorscr  Facebook: ecorealtorscr
In front of Subway at Plaza Herradura, Jacó
Green NAR designee, member of the CCBR, CRGAR

Jim Day, representing Colinas del Sol
del Pacifico, S.A.


* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit tree orchards.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $39,000 USD , and many can be combined for those wanting a larger area for their chosen passion, be it a hobby horse farm or retirement haven.
* Located in Libertad, Guanacaste, Northwest Pacific area of Costa Rica.
* Electricity and water to each of 79 clear0titled lots.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
* 5 minutes to Papagayo  Golf & Country Club
Contact Jim Day
or Phone:  001 517 484-3675.
Click Here:

Telethon will include U.S. participants

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even Costa Ricans and friends of Costa Rica in the United States will be contributing to the Teletón 2014 that takes place Dec. 5 and 6.

The telethon is a project of the Club Activo 20-30 Internacional de San José, and the organization hopes to raise 703 million colons this year. That's about $1.3 million.

The Asociación Costa Rica said over the weekend that it would hold an event to collect funds for the telethon Dec. 2 in the Costa Rican Embassy in Washington. There is an evening reception with a $20 admission.

Those who attend will be taped for display during the telethon.

A beneficiary of the telethon again this year will be the Hospital Nacional de Niños.

The telethon will be aired by local television stations. It begins at 9 p.m. Dec. 5 and runs until midnight the next day.

The Club Activo 20-30 Internacional notes that other hospitals also are beneficiaries of the funds collected. The club also said that there will be gatherings of Costa Ricans in other U.S. cities for participation in the telethon. They include Washington, Connecticut, Boston, Atlanta and a location in New Jersey.

There are a number of local and international performers who participate gratis in the telethon.

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo        
     President Luis Guillermo Solís gets a briefing on the Proyecto Las Pailas II
     geothermal generating plant that will be online in 2018. The  $333.4 million
     project will provide power for the equivalent of 130,000 homes. Solís visited
     the site in Curubandé de Liberia, Guanacaste, Friday.

Couples who kiss share oral critters

By the  BioMed Central news staff

As many as 80 million bacteria are transferred during a 10-second kiss, according to research published in the open access journal Microbiome. The study also found that partners who kiss each other at least nine times a day share similar communities of oral bacteria.

The ecosystem of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in human bodies - the microbiome - is essential for the digestion of food, synthesizing nutrients, and preventing disease. It is shaped by genetics, diet, and age, but also the individuals with whom we interact. With the mouth playing host to more than 700 varieties of bacteria, the oral microbiota also appear to be influenced by those closest to us.

Researchers from Micropia and TNO in the Netherlands studied 21 couples, asking them to fill out questionnaires on their kissing behavior including their average intimate kiss frequency. They then took swab samples to investigate the composition of their oral microbiota on the tongue and in their saliva.

The results showed that when couples intimately kiss at relatively high frequencies their salivary microbiota become similar. On average it was found that at least nine intimate kisses per day led to couples having significantly shared salivary microbiota.

Lead author Remco Kort, from TNO's Microbiology and Systems Biology department and adviser to the Micropia museum of microbes, said: "Intimate kissing involving full tongue contact and saliva exchange appears to be a courtship behavior unique to humans and is common in over 90 percent of known cultures. Interestingly, the current explanations for the function of intimate kissing in humans include an important role for the microbiota present in the oral cavity, although to our knowledge, the exact effects of intimate kissing on the oral microbiota have never been studied. We wanted to find out the extent to which partners share their oral microbiota, and it turns out, the more a couple kiss, the more similar they are."

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 227           
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The bridges
are coming

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad has awarded a $2.7 million contract to Constructora Meco S.A. to install five bailey bridges between Puerto Jiménez and Carate at the tip of the Osa Peninsula. Work is supposed to start next year. The bridges will be placed at the ríos Sombrerito and Piro and the ravines Carbonera, Bijagual and Camañín. Right now tourists require a four-wheel drive vehicle to make the trip.
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad graphic

State Department shuts down its email service because of hackers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wire service reports from Washington say that the U.S. State Department has taken the unprecedented step of shutting down its entire unclassified email system, in the wake of a suspected hacker attack. This is the same system that staffers at the U.S. Embassy here use to communicate with expats.

There has been no local word about the situation, but the embassy Web site was lacking some key features Sunday night.

Technicians are repairing possible damage from an attack that
occurred at about the same time as another one on the White House computer network, reported last month, the wire service report said.

Since the White House email attack, several government agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service and the National Weather Service, have reported attacks, the services added.

Chinese or Russian hackers have been blamed for the earlier attacks, but this has not been publicly confirmed.

The State Department is expected to address the shutdown once the security improvements have been completed on today or Tuesday.

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
This is part of the confiscated fireworks from buses in Golfito.
Two buses yield more explosive fireworks at Golfito checkpoint
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers have confiscated two more loads of fireworks that came from the southern border. The explosives were on buses, which caused police to express concern.

They said there were at least 19,000 units.

Police located the fireworks at the Guaycará de Golfito checkpoint some 35 kilometers north of the border. One of the buses carried passengers on a private shopping trip and was headed back to Puntarenas.
Police said that some of the fireworks were in a basket atop the bus and exposed to the hot sun. 

Some of the confiscated devices were rockets with the explosive equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite, police said.

A passenger in the second bus carried about 3,000 units of fireworks, police said.

At the same time police said they confiscated about 1 million colons worth of contraband clothing and shoes.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 227  
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Researcher tracks the aliments that come from the Western diet
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The globalization of Western eating habits is bad for human health and for the environment, according to a new study in the journal Nature.

In the study, David Tilman, a University of Minnesota ecology professor, analyzed data from 100 countries to chart what people ate and how diet affected health. He noted a trend beginning in the 1960s: As nations industrialized, population increased and incomes rose. More people began to adopt the so-called Western diet, one high in refined sugar, fat, oil and meat. People began to get fatter and sicker.

“The excess in the 15 richest nations of the world right now," Tilman said, "is on the order of about 400 or 500 extra calories a day beyond what people need, and that leads people to gain weight.”

Overweight people are at greater risk for noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, Tilman said.

“Diabetes is shooting to very high rates in the United States and across Europe," he said. "Heart disease is a major cause of mortality in the Western countries. And unfortunately, when people become industrialized, if they adopt this Western diet, they are going to have
 these same health impacts, and in some cases if you are Asian, you have them more severely than even happens in the West.” 

That’s the case in China, where diabetes has skyrocketed from less than 1 percent to 10 percent of the population having diabetes over a 20-year period.

“It has not leveled off yet. It is still going up," Tilman said. "And that is happening all across the world, in Mexico, in Nigeria and so on, in nation after nation.”

The diet bad for humans is also bad for the environment, he said. Experts predict that as global population grows, more forests and tropical habitats will be converted into farmland for crops or grazing pasture for cattle to meet the increased demand for food. 

“We are likely to have more greenhouse gas released in the future from agriculture because of this dietary shift than all the greenhouse gas that right now comes out of all the cars, and all of the airplanes, boats and ships, all forms of transportation,” Tilman said.

Tilman said reducing the Western diet's adverse impact on human health and the environment is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

La Fortuna
Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and wireless internet. Harry Hart, proprietor.  Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email:

Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
          the move.
   * Access the country's affordable health care system
   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
          and  Living in Costa Rica – the Official Guide to Relocation”
Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at

Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
and car rentals.  
Call 1-888.456.3212 or 2479-8811 locally.

Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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Real estate for rent (paid category)
Enjoy living in the middle of wonderful mountains.
Fresh air, gorgeous forest. Near downtown but away from noisy city.  Nature lifestyle.  Beautiful chalet in a large property located in Monte de la Cruz, Heredia. Two bedrooms, two baths, laundry room, fully furnished, security, electric gate. Rate $500 monthly. Phone  2267-6306  Email


Beautiful cottage in San Rafael, Heredia

Cottage in the mountain.  Surrounded by nature.  One bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms. Beautiful balcony and view. Bus line service, security.  $500 monthly.  Phone: 506-8739-0638  Email:

Maneul Antonio
The vacation homes at Manuel Antonio Estates offers luxury, comfort and peace of mind. We have numerous homes to chose from, all within walking distance of the town’s shops and restaurants and just a few minutes to the best beaches and the famous national park. While the homes are secluded and hidden among the rainforest, the surrounding area offers adventures like zip lines, white water rafting, mangrove kayaking and many more. All of the homes are available for short-term rentals, have easily accessible parking, cable TV, and Internet and are fully furnished. We are happy to assist with all your need for the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Manuel Antonio Estates        TOLL FREE: 1800 346 9724
011 (506) 2777.3339

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

Beautiful fully furnished two floor house for rent
in La Guacima

Guacima montage
La Guacima, Alajuela. 20 minutes from airport, San José or Alajuela Centro and 30 minutes from Heredia. Near highway 27. $1,000 a month. All services included (Internet, water, electricity, security). Very private, very quiet, green areas, fully furnished. Must like animals (we have three gentle dogs), look at high resolution pics HERE! U.S. citizens or Europeans preferred. No children. Call to inquire and for appointment to visit. Available for rent in December. Contact phone number:  (506)  8839-4315.

Organic farm home
$800 plus utilities.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS.

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at or contact us at
or call at (506) 2654-5442.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

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About us
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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2014 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page
Family home

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 227     
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Altos de Antigua

Obama laments execution
of former U.S. Ranger

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama has confirmed the death of American hostage Abdul-Rahman Kassig, saying the aid worker was killed in an act of pure evil by Islamic State militants.

In a statement to reporters aboard Air Force One Sunday, Obama offered prayers and condolences to Kassig's parents and family. He accused the Islamic State of reveling in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction.

The president was on his way home after attending the G20 summit in Australia.

Confirmation of Kassig's death came after a review of a video released Sunday by the Islamic State that purported to show extremists beheading Syrian soldiers and concluded with a militant claiming to have killed the American.

The video did not show the beheading.

The militant in the clip, who speaks with a British accent, says the first American crusader will be buried in the northern Syrian town of Dabig, and warns that U.S. soldiers will meet a similar fate.

The same video showed the beheadings of at least 18 men described as Syrian military personnel.

Kassig, a 26-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger, was taken captive 13 months ago while doing humanitarian work in war-torn Syria.  His family said he converted to Islam while in captivity and changed his first name from Peter to Abdul-Rahman.

With Kassig's death, the Islamic State terrorist group has killed five Westerners it was holding. The militants earlier victims were British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, U.S. reporter James Foley and American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, who were all beheaded.

Kassig's mother, Paula, recently told NBC's Today show that she and her husband received an audio recording of their son several weeks ago in which he said he feared his time was running out.

In a statement Sunday, the Kassig family urged the media not to broadcast images released by the militants, saying this was "playing into the hostage takers hands."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was horrified by Kassig's "cold-blooded murder."

Obama expected to trigger
immigration political fight

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama is heading back to Washington where a contentious political fight with opposition lawmakers is brewing over his plan to unilaterally overhaul the country's immigration policies.

White House aides say Obama, returning Sunday from a trip to Asia and meetings with world leaders, could act in the coming days to shield from deportation about five million migrants who are living illegally in the United States.

As he left Brisbane, Australia, after a G20 economic summit, Obama again said he is prepared to use his executive powers, allowing him to bypass Congress, to impose sweeping immigration reforms. He reiterated that he wishes Congress would enact comprehensive reforms but, absent congressional action, said he would be remiss to not act on his own.

"I would be derelict in my duties if I did not try to improve a system that everybody acknowledges is broken," said the president.

Obama said he would not be swayed from introducing new immigration rules by threats from some members of Congress to take actions that could lead to another government shutdown. Many Republican lawmakers have chided Obama, a Democrat, for his prospective immigration changes. They say that the new rules would amount to amnesty for lawbreakers.

The U.S. Senate more than a year ago approved a comprehensive package of immigration reforms, but Republicans in the House of Representatives have balked at voting on the measure.

Sen. John McCain, one Republican who supports immigration reforms, urged Obama to "give the new Congress some time" to see if it can move forward. He warned that any executive action could have "real repercussions" for cooperation between the White House and Congress.

McCain, Obama's 2008 presidential election opponent, is a senator from the border state of Arizona where many undocumented immigrants cross over from Mexico.

Iranian dress code bill
would support vigilantes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Iran’s parliament last week approved a bill that would allow paramilitary forces to return to public streets and verbally enforce strict Islamic dress codes.  Meanwhile, hardliners are reportedly pushing legislation that would support and protect citizen vigilantes who also want to help enforce the hijab. This comes in the wake of a string of acid attacks on women in Isfahan for not dressing properly. 

President Hassan Rouhani repeatedly pledged to promote women’s rights and relax tough dress codes during his campaign and since was elected.

Nasrin Afzali doesn’t think so.  A feminist activist now living in Canada, she once wrote for Zanan, a leading feminist magazine Iran shut down in 2007. She also received a suspended sentence of ten lashes and six months in jail for taking part in protests against gender discrimination. She sees recent events as part of a continuum that began with the Islamic revolution.

“It’s just a part of the same misogynist policy that has been going on for the last 35 years,” she said.  “Another link in the chain of the Islamic Republic’s gender ideology.”

And she points out that the Isfahan acid attacks last month are not the first in recent times.

Islamic tradition requires women to dress modestly, but how they do so varies from country to country.  The hijab can include anything from a simple head covering to the chador, a full black cloak that encircles the entire head and body.

In 1936, Reza Shah Pahlavi banned traditional Islamic dress in Iran and imposed European clothing as part of an effort to modernize and secularize along Western lines — and sideline religious leaders.

The 1979 revolution came as a reaction to the repressive policies of the Shah and a rejection of the U.S., which had supported him.  Many women protesters donned the hijab in a gesture of defiance as well as support of Ayatollah Khomeini, who preached a return to traditional Islamic law.

But shortly after he took power, Khomeini made the hijab compulsory and imposed tough penalties for violators.  Under Mohammed Khatami, elected in 1997, women fared a little better.

“During the first years of the Khatemi era,” Ms. Afzali recalled, “we thought that all the black days were finished and that we would never see the moral police in the streets.  I joined the first feminist Web site, and we wrote about women’s issues, and for the first time after the Revolution, NGOs were created, dealing with women and other social issues.”

Things changed under Ahmadinejad, elected in 2005, who worked to curb the women’s movement. His government shut down Zanan and allowed morality police to harass — sometimes brutally — and arrest women for improper hijab.

In the run-up to his 2013 election, Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, promised to end the oppression of women and stop gender-based violence.  He has repeatedly spoken out against the enforcement of tough Islamic dress codes by so-called morality police.

"Women must enjoy equal opportunity, equal protection and equal social rights," he said in comments that were broadcast live on television. In November, 2013, he banned the morality police from arresting women.

“Modesty is beyond wearing the hijab,” he said at the time. “The way the vigilantes interpret the question of modesty antagonizes our society and has negative results which is contrary to the teaching of Islam and is unconstitutional.”

That kind of rhetoric seemed to indicate Rouhani is committed to improving the lot of Iran’s women.  But some analysts say that’s too simplistic a reading.

“Rouhani is a statist,” said Iranian analyst Steven Ditto.  “He believes in the absolute authority of Khamenei.  He is deeply committed to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution.”

What makes Rouhani different — and what gives him the reputation of being a reformist — is his belief that small-scale reforms can actually strengthen Iran politically.

“Rouhani deeply believes that through tweaking the status quo in terms of minority rights, education, and women's rights — along with easing economic pressure on Iran through nuclear negotiations — he can breathe fresh air into how the Iranian system is viewed domestically, by ordinary Iranians,” Ditto said.

“People will have pride to live in an Islamic country that combines an Islamic and Iranian identity.”

And this pride will lead to development, medical and scientific advances, he said, and enable Iran to meet long-term foreign policy goals.

“There is no doubt Rouhani is committed to women's rights.  But, does he care about women in and of themselves? Does he care about reform as an end unto itself? No. Rather, he views them as necessary for the ends of the state,” Ditto said.

Last month, an unknown number of men on motorcycles threw acid at women they deemed were improperly dressed.  Details are fuzzy, in part because of a crackdown on media coverage of the attacks.  As many as two dozen women may have been targeted.

The attacks followed an earlier announcement by the radical Islamist group Ansar-e-Hezbollah, which has a history of attacking individuals and institutions it deems as un-Islamic.  Sept. 14, the group announced it would shortly dispatch thousands of male and female vigilantes into the streets to enforce proper dress codes.

“The attacks were very organized,” Ms. Afzali said. “The assailants were guarded by others driving cars behind them.  And a few days before the attack, some women say they were sent text messages in warning .”

She blames government conservatives and religious leaders for encouraging the violence.

“For one or two years, all of the Friday prayers have been focused on the hijab,” Ms. Afzali said.  They were very clear.  They said the verbal enforcement of the hijab is no longer enough, and people should use physical force, even ‘shed some blood.’”

Isfahan’s Friday prayer leader called the acid attacks reprehensible.

In Iran, acid throwing is a capital offense. But hardliners in parliament have been looking for ways to protect vigilantes trying to enforce the hijab. Pending legislation to promote virtue and prevent vice would do just that.

“It’s a very general law that essentially codifies something that is already in Iran’s constitution,” said Human Rights Watch Iran researcher Faraz Sanei.

“There’s an article in Iran’s constitution that essentially says that the government must create a favorable environment for the growth of moral virtues based on faith and piety and the struggle against all forms of vice and corruption," Sanei said.  "The people in parliament who introduced this bill say they are simply implementing and codifying what’s law already."

Parliament has already approved portions of the bill, but it’s still a long way from law.

“It still has to be vetted by the Guardian Council to ensure that it is in compliance with Sharia law, and then of course after that, it has to be signed by the president and published in the country’s official journal,” Sanei said.

If the bill passes, Sanei worries, it could open the door to more attacks.

Rouhani has harshly criticized the bill and promised harsh punishment for the acid attackers.  At least 10 suspects were arrested in October — and later released.

But Iran’s women, in the meantime, are dressing with a little more care.

Comet probe nods off
with hopes of recharging

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hundreds of millions of kilometers from earth, a European spacecraft made history Wednesday by successfully landing on the icy, dusty surface of a speeding comet, an audacious first designed to answer big questions about the universe.

However, by Saturday, the European Space Agency says the batteries of Philae, the comet probe, were depleted, but not before delivering reams of data about its surroundings back to Earth.

The space agency says Philae was lifted Friday by about 4 centimeters and rotated 35 degrees in an effort to pull it out of a shadow so its solar panels could recharge its spent batteries. It was not immediately clear whether the difficult rotation was successful in bringing the panels out of the shade.

Even if the rotation was successful, it may take weeks or months before Philae can send out new signals. Regular checks for signals will continue. The last signals were received Saturday morning.

Philae became the first-ever man-made object to land on a comet when it touched down, seven hours after separating from its Rosetta mothership. Agency officials say the probe bounced on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko twice because its harpoons, which were designed to anchor Philae to the surface, failed to deploy.

The space agency says the 100-kilogram lander has sent back unprecedented images of its surroundings. The agency says descent images show the surface of the comet is covered by dust and debris ranging from millimeter to meter sizes, while panoramic views show layered walls of "harder-looking material."

The ESA's team of scientists is now evaluating the data and is attempting to determine whether experiments were successful, especially a complex operation in which the lander was given commands to drill a 25-centimeter hole into the comet and pull out a sample for analysis.

ESA mission chief Paolo Ferri said Saturday the agency was not sure if the drill had touched the ground during the drilling operation.

Scientists hope the $1.6 billion project will help answer questions about the origins of the universe and life on Earth.

Scientists say drilled samples from the comet would unlock details about how the planets evolved. Comets date back to the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. Scientists suspect impacting comets delivered water to the young Earth.

Matt Taylor, the space agency's Rosetta project scientists, says "the data collected by Philae and Rosetta is set to make this mission a game-changer in cometary science."

The Rosetta became the first ever spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet back in August after a 10-year journey that included a slingshot flight path around Earth and Mars before it could gain enough speed to reach Comet 67P.

Rosetta will escort Comet 67P and Philae for the next year and observe it as it heads towards the sun.

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The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
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Great climate
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Visit our Web Site:

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(506) 8707-4016
Grecia 884
Beautiful large house in Grecia, Costa Rica, with the best fresh natural weather. The property includes 9 challets and and 12.000 m2 of land,  1,000 m2 of construction. Price $498.000. Click HERE!
Grecia 881
Beautiful house in Grecia, Costa Rica,  2 kilometers from the city.   340 m2 of land.
Price $135.000. Click
Grecia 883
Beautiful  House in Grecia, Costa Rica,  1.5  kilometers from the city.   220 m2 of land. Price $138.000.  Click HERE!
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Atenas home
This developer's prime lot with super house is being offered in Roca Verde, 7,006 M2 of gentle grade, all landscaped for tropical effect, 3 bedrooms 2 baths with tile floors and hardwood kitchen, near the entrance of the neighborhood. Great floor plan on this one! There is a double carport, and a large patio and pool, wheelhouse style living room and many other features. View, large usable lot, close to town, nice, oh yeah. $495,000.

More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

Maneul Antonio
Manuel Antonio Estates focuses on building vacation homes for clients within Manuel Antonio Estates and Palmas Pacifica. We take care of the details from permits and design to supervision of construction and management of the rentals, if needed. We provide privacy and security, and our gated community offers shared common recreational facilities, beautiful landscaping and parking areas. Our homes and lots are located just minutes from the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. If you've ever considered buying a second home, just minutes from the beach, do not hesitate, if you have any questions or would like to request more information please take full advantage of our Costa Rica real estate services and contact us today!
Manuel Antonio Estates    1 800 346-9724  (506) 8815-9606.

Ciudad Colon
Great Deal!! Apartment in condo with pool and extensive green areas:
Ciudad Colón, San José $112,000
The apartment has a master bedroom with a large ensuite bathroom with bath tub, and a smaller second bedroom/office with air conditioning. It has a second full bathroom, living/dining room, laundry room with hot water tank and storage area. The kitchen comes with granite countertops, a breakfast bar and new dishwasher. It has 82 m2 of construction. 2 balconies with beautiful views of the river and mountains. Private parking for one car. Elevator and a well presented reception area. Located in a very quiet and private neighborhood just 400 meters from the centre of Ciudad Colón. Within minutes to all major amenities in Santa Ana and Escazú. Easy access to the beach (less than 1.5 hrs).  24-hour security, visitor parking, pool, extensive and lush green areas, BBQ area, children’s playground and its own water treatment plant. Contact (506) 6022-9294 or 6022-9967, for further info or to arrange a viewing.

Suenos montage
Outrageous blowout prices on oceanfront condos in Los Sueños!

Located in the private Bay Residence enclave overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Sueños Resort and Marina, there are three gorgeous units available at unbelievable bargain pricing from $589,000.  All of these beautiful units are three bedrooms and two baths, 2,200 square feet, fully furnished and ready to move in.  Development includes a gym, access to 3 pools, jacuzzis, BBQ areas and the Beach Club.  If you’ve always wanted to own in Los Sueños, now is the time!  Contact  or call 8702-0778.  From U.S. call 209-482-1788.

Top floor unit: $649,000   Second floor unit: $675,000  Garden unit: $589,000

Newly available in Roca Verde
Well-built home of 215 m2, 3 bedrooms, two bath on 1,150 m2 of lot, with attractive rock retaining wall, carport, and a pool. Indoors there are high, vaulted hardwood ceiling, bright rooms, a laundry room.  The floor is ceramic tile in pastel shades. $247,000. Photos: 2446-5587.

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya.7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show HERE!

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
This is not an ordinary condo.
Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $214,500.

two houses
Two lovely homes on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-story, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-story 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet.   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and


Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.

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13 work stations, good equipment, good location, Rohrmoser, two blocks from Plaza Mayor. $4.000 per month. Call Kevin 8366-6861.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 227
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
It seems that the worms are well-traveled

Oops!  When I goof up, I do it well, but, thanks to my readers, I can correct my mistakes.

After last week’s column about gardening at elevation, I received a number of letters pointing out that we have plenty of earthworms at higher elevations here in Costa Rica.  At first, I blamed it on our many microclimates.  Wrong again.  Earthworms, it seems, thrive just about everywhere that there is biomass for them to enjoy.

As to making good compost, Paula, who lived at 2,300 meters, suggests that
Victoria torley
it was the lack of heat that caused a slowing of the breakdown of composted material.  She has an excellent point as nights can be chilly at that elevation.  Ivy, who lives at 1,500 meters, agrees that lower temperature is an important factor.

Just as I was losing confidence, Ivy agreed with me that shredding compost material into smaller pieces was helpful  
in promoting decomposition.  She also adds shredded cardboard (but not cardboard with color – the dyes are bad) to the compost and says it is helpful.

As to those pests, ants and termites, Bob, who lives at 1,300 meters, has plenty  
of termites and assorted ants.  Paula, at higher elevation, had neither ants nor
termites (we all seem to have cutworms though).  So it does seem that ants and
termites have a hard time making a living as elevations get higher and that microclimates do make a difference.  Another confidence booster.

Everyone seems to agree that our rich volcanic soils are a large part of the reason for the fecundity of the area although Ivy added a caveat.  Volcanic soils tend to be acidic and she, like her neighbors, adds calcium to the soil as a neutralizer.  She has pine trees on her property and makes sure that she rakes
and disposes of pine needles to avoid adding their acidity to the soil as well.

And what should we grow at higher elevations?  I always suggest looking at what your neighbors are growing successfully.  After all, atmospheric pressure, temperature, sunlight, and other factors play into the production of a successful crop.  Paula found that potatoes, cabbages, Brussel sprouts and strawberries, the “northern crops,” did well at elevation.  Ivy pointed out that palms grew more slowly at elevation but that her azaleas, rhubarb, and iris did well. 

So, my apologies to the humble earthworm and my thanks to my readers.   I do a lot of research for the column, but sometimes the best information comes from people with their toes in the earth and sweat on their brows.  If you catches me in an error, let me know, I welcome your input.

Plant of the Day

For variety of foliage colors, few plants can beat the coleus.  Reds, yellow, purples, bronze, lightly or heavily variegated, coleus are a plus in soil or
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley
planters.  Although you can plant them in light or partial shade, full sun will bring out the most vibrant colors.   Some can get quite tall (some of mine are well over a meter – 3 feet) and others stay shorter, so experiment with them.   Propagation is easy – just clip a section and plant in moist soil, or plop in a container with water and wait for roots to sprout.  So far, the leaf cutters have eaten some and left others alone, and I have no idea why. 

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit the Arenal Gardeners Facebook page.

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From Page 7:

Five restaurants win sustainable certification

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Five restaurants have qualified for the certificate of sustainable tourism.

They are the Restaurante Fogo in the Holiday Inn, San José;  the Restaurante Cañón de la Vieja in the lodge of the same name near Liberia; the Restaurante Vista del Golfo at Casa Conde del Mar Hotel and Resort, Golfo de Papagayo; the  Restaurante Lagarta at Lagarta Lodge near Nosara, and Restaurante Jaguar at Buena Vista Lodge at Rincon de La Vieja.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo said that 19 other restaurants are under evaluation for certification.

The certification was designed to differentiate businesses of the tourism sector, based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management, said the institute. Previously, rental car agencies, hotels and tourism projects have gained certification.

In the case of restaurants, the evaluation considered quality of services as well as the potential to reenforce the local cultural heritage were considered, said the institute. The evaluation considered the promotion of the Costa Rican food identity, said the institute.